Iran and world powers will return to Vienna on Tuesday as negotiators warn time is running out to restore the landmark nuclear agreement.
“Following a short break, the 8th round of negotiations in Vienna in the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will resume tomorrow, on Tuesday 8 February,” the European Union said in a statement.
Why it matters: The indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States are in their final stretch, but the two sides remain at odds over sanctions relief and other issues.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh described the removal of economic sanctions, including measures unrelated to its nuclear program, as a “red line” for Iran. The Biden administration has pledged to lift most sanctions imposed since 2018 if Iran resumes compliance with JCPOA.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed sanctions waivers on Friday that will allow international companies to cooperate with Iran on civilian nuclear activities. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called the restored waivers, which the Trump administration revoked in 2020, “good, but not enough.”
What’s next: A senior State Department official said last week that only a few weeks remain to strike a deal before Iran’s nuclear advancements render the JCPOA’s original benefits meaningless. According to The Wall Street Journal, US officials believe it’s now impossible to recreate the JCPOA’s original 12-month breakout time to build a bomb.
Tehran began violating the JCPOA, which restricted the purity and amount of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile, after former President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions. Iran is now enriching uranium to 60% purity, well above the level permitted under the JCPOA but short of what’s needed to build a bomb.
The chief US negotiator in the talks, Robert Malley, said Friday that the United States would return to the Austrian capital in “a sign of our continued belief that it is not a dead corpse.”
Know more: Bijan Khajehpour takes a look at Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s economic policies after nearly six months in office. And in last week’s Takeaway, Al-Monitor breaks down how Yemen’s future could be impacted by the Vienna talks.